2021 Men’s SEC Championships: Day 2 Prelims Live Recap

2021 SEC MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Coming off of recording the second-fastest 200 freestyle in history leading off last night’s 800 free relay, Florida junior Kieran Smith looks primed to take a run at his American and NCAA records in the 500 free on Day 2 in Columbia.

Smith won the SEC title last season in a devastating time of 4:06.32, breaking Zane Grothe‘s AR by almost a full second (4:07.25) and Townley Haas‘ NCAA mark by close to two (4:08.19). At that same meet, he led off the 800 free relay in 1:30.11, so we may see him venture into 4:05s tonight, if not lower.

This morning he’ll only be swimming in Heat 4 of 6, having been 4:11.08 earlier this season which ranks fourth in the NCAA but third in the conference. Notably, Bobby Finke is entered to swim alongside him in the fourth heat, though he was seen in a walking boot earlier in the week.

Georgia freshman Jake Magahey is the top seed in the 500 having been 4:10.48 in November, and Texas A&M senior Mark Theall holds down the second seed in 4:10.67.

The 200 IM will be headlined by defending champion Shaine Casaswho went 1:38.95 earlier this season to move to #3 all-time.

The 50 free could be one of the most wide open events of the entire meet, with the top 10 seeds separated by just over four-tenths of a second. Alabama freshman Matt King is the #1 seed at 19.26, but five guys split sub-19 anchoring the 200 medley relay on Tuesday, so we could see someone smash through the barrier today.

One swimmer to watch for is Gator freshman Adam Chaney, who is only seeded seventh but dropped almost a full second in the 50 back leading off last night’s medley relay. Chaney swam his previous best time in that event at the Auburn Fall Invitational, where he also swam his fastest-ever 50 free at 19.51, so another big drop may be in the offing.

500 FREE PRELIMS

  • SEC Meet Record: 4:06.32, Kieran Smith (FLOR), 2020
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:11.82
  • 2020 Winner: Kieran Smith (FLOR), 4:06.32
  1. Jake Magahey (Georgia), 4:12.39
  2. Alfonso Mestre (Florida), 4:13.53
  3. Kieran Smith (Florida), 4:14.69
  4. Trey Freeman (Florida), 4:14.84
  5. Bobby Finke (Florida), 4:15.22
  6. Tyler Watson (Florida), 4:15.93
  7. Andrew Abruzzo (Georgia), 4:15.98
  8. Mark Theall (Texas A&M), 4:16.52

The Florida Gators were not messing around this morning in the 500 free, qualifying five men through to the ‘A’ final, surprisingly led by sophomore Alfonso Mestre in 4:13.53.

However, it was Georgia’s Jake Magahey who asserted himself with the fastest time of the session from the final heat, putting up a very strong 4:12.39 which marks his second-fastest swim ever. The freshman came into the meet ranked second in the NCAA with his 4:10.48 from November.

Mestre, who didn’t compete at SECs last season, entered the campaign with a best time of 4:21.05, and brought it down to 4:18.14 at the Auburn Fall Invite three months ago. He chops more than four and a half seconds off that for the second seed, and he’ll be joined by several teammates in tonight’s final.

Taking second to Mestre in the penultimate heat was fellow Florida sophomore Trey Freeman, who qualifies fourth overall in 4:14.84. Freeman owns a best of 4:12.80 from the 2019 SECs, and ended up redshirting last season after undergoing knee surgery.

Gator juniors Kieran Smith (4:14.69) and Bobby Finke (4:15.22) cruised through Heat 4 to qualify third and fifth overall. It’s a positive sign for Finke, who looks to be fine after being spotted in a walking boot prior to the meet. Smith was right on where he was in the heats last year (4:14.55), while Finke was about 1.5 seconds slower.

Florida sophomore Tyler Watson, who, like Mestre, wasn’t even on the team’s SEC roster last season, dropped three and a half seconds from his best time to qualify sixth out of Heat 3 in 4:15.93. Watson had previously been a best of 4:19.47 at the Bulldog NCAA Qualifier in February of last year. Prior to the event cancellation, last season’s NCAAs required a time of 4:16.49 to earn an invite.

Rounding out the finalists is Georgia’s Andrew Abruzzo (4:15.98) and Texas A&M’s Mark Theall (4:16.52), who finished sixth and second overall last season, respectively. It took over a second faster to qualify for the ‘A’ final this year compared to 2020 (4:17.64).

200 IM PRELIMS

  1. Shaine Casas (Texas A&M), 1:41.55
  2. Danny Kovac (Missouri), 1:41.75
  3. Javier Acevedo (Georgia), 1:42.82
  4. Dillon Hillis (Florida), 1:43.11
  5. Luca Urlando (Georgia), 1:43.85
  6. Mason Wilby (Kentucky), 1:43.86
  7. Kaloyan Bratanov (Texas A&M), 1:44.26
  8. Zach Hils (Georgia), 1:44.46

2020 champion Shaine Casas claimed Lane 4 for tonight’s final as he put up a 1:41.55 in the last heat of the men’s 200 IM, touching two-tenths clear of Missouri’s Danny Kovac.

Casas was incredibly quick on fly, out in 20.92, and looked comfortable easing his way through the rest of the race.

Kovac, a Missouri junior, set a new program record in a time of 1:41.75 from Heat 5, using a blistering 21.28 fly split to best the previous mark of 1:42.49 set by Nick Alexander last year. Kovac, who finished third last season, set his previous best time at the 2019 Mizzou Invite in 1:42.60.

Georgia’s Javier Acevedo won the penultimate heat in 1:42.82 for the third seed.

Florida continues to perform well as junior Dillon Hillis dropped a full second to advance in fourth from one of the early heats in 1:43.11, while senior Clark Beach was 11th in 1:44.77, dropping over three seconds, from Heat 1.

Notably placing sixth was Kentucky’s Mason Wilby, taking more than two seconds off his best time in 1:43.86 to near the Wildcat school record of 1:43.47.

50 FREE PRELIMS

  • SEC Meet Record: 18.23, Caeleb Dressel (FLOR), 2016
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 18.96
  • 2020 Winner: Zane Waddell (BAMA), 19.07
  1. Adam Chaney (Florida), 18.88
  2. Dillon Downing (Georgia), 18.90
  3. Brooks Curry (LSU), 18.97
  4. Matt King (Alabama), 19.34
  5. Will Davis (Florida), 19.37
  6. Nik Eberly (Auburn), 19.38
  7. Sam DiSette (Alabama), 19.39
  8. Eric Friese (Florida), 19.47

It was a lightning-quick final two heats of the session, as three guys broke 19 seconds — all for the first time — in the 50 freestyle.

First, it was sophomores Dillon Downing of Georgia and Brooks Curry of LSU dropping respective times of 18.90 and 18.97 out of Heat 7, both becoming the first swimmer in school history under 19 seconds. The previous UGA record belonged to Michael Trice (19.16) from 2016, and Curry owned the old LSU record at 19.28.

Then it was Adam Chaney‘s turn, as the Florida freshman dropped an 18.88 in the final heat to become just the fourth swimmer aged 18 and under to break 19 seconds. Chaney is now tied for third all-time in the 17-18 age group with Michael Andrew, while Caeleb Dressel‘s NAG of 18.67 is just two-tenths up the road.

Chaney, Downing and Curry also take over the top three spots in the NCAA this season, with Curry tied with Cal’s Ryan Hoffer for third. Downing (eighth) and Curry (sixth) are notably the only ‘A’ finalists from last season competing this week.

Alabama freshman Matt King, who split 18.61 on last night’s 200 medley relay (Downing was the fastest at 18.59) was a solid 19.37 for fourth, just over a tenth off his best time set in November (19.26).

Nik Eberly dropped over two-tenths from his best time to earn Auburn’s lone individual ‘A’ final tonight in 19.38, qualifying sixth. The same goes for Bama and Sam DiSette, as the senior was just .03 from his best to take seventh in 19.39 after swimming in the ‘C’ final last season.

Will Davis and Eric Friese join Chainey in the big heat tonight for Florida, who really took control this morning by putting nine men through to ‘A’ finals.

TEAM SCORES

Reminder: The entire diving portion of the meet was contested last week.

  1. Kentucky, 338
  2. Tennessee, 287
  3. Missouri, 232
  4. Texas A&M, 221
  5. Florida, 207
  6. Auburn, 202
  7. LSU, 176
  8. Alabama, 156
  9. Georgia, 152
  10. South Carolina, 90

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PhillyMark
3 months ago

Dressel’s AR in 2IM might be in trouble 2nite

Waader
Reply to  PhillyMark
3 months ago

Nah, Casas will drop a 1:38 for sure. But the record is still too fast. He might come close tho.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  PhillyMark
3 months ago

It would probably be a first if the NCAA record was set and then broken in a conference championships.

sggs
3 months ago

Any advice on where to watch? FuboTV free trial or something?

PhillyMark
Reply to  sggs
3 months ago

Espn app works for me.

Sun Yangs Hammer
3 months ago

Feeling like we’ll see 2 new American Records tonight

1:37.9 / 4:05

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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